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Post-War Middle-Class Housing

Models, Construction and Change

Edited By Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi

Post-war middle-class housing played a key role in constructing and transforming the cities of Europe and America, deeply impacting today’s urban landscape. And yet, this stock has been underrepresented in a literature mostly focused on public housing and the work of a few master architects.
This book is the first attempt to explore such housing from an international perspective. It provides a comparative insight into the processes of construction, occupation and transformation of residential architecture built for the middle-classes in 12 different countries between the 1950s and 1970s. It investigates the role of models, actors and policies that shaped the middle-class city, tracing geographies, chronologies and forms of development that often cross national frontiers.
This study is particularly relevant today within the context of «fragilization» which affects the middle-classes, challenging, as it does, the urban role played by this residential heritage in the light of technological obsolescence, trends in patterns of homeownership, as well as social and generational changes.
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Introduction: The Middle-Class Project: Designing New Ways of Living in the Post-War City

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GAIA CARAMELLINO

Introduction

The Middle-Class Project: Designing New Ways of Living in the Post-War City1

Why a Book on Middle-Class Housing?

On the heels of the extensive research produced during the 1970s and the 1980s by scholars in various fields2, a renewed interest in the middle classes emerged in both the political and the scientific discourse – in the United States and in Europe – during the last decades, focusing on the decline, fragilization and re-definition processes that have been affecting this social group in recent years3. However, these studies rarely adopted a spatial perspective, paying scarce attention to the modes of spatial inscription and to the relationship between the middle classes and the spaces they inhabit, where their social life takes place and where they build their identity. All of these spaces contribute to establishing a status and distinguish the middle classes from other social groups; they are therefore not only residential, but they range from the territories of everyday life to those of leisure, from the places ← 17 | 18 → of consumption to those of tourism. These spatial patterns have seldom been investigated4.

Among them the house, observed as a “complex social object” and as an element of social affirmation and distinction, plays a crucial role in the processes of stratification and consolidation of this social group, participating in the construction of its identity5. However, while most recently the fields of historical studies and social sciences have...

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